Memories of the Children's Home
Was it at number 70?
I well recall the Children’s Home – number 70, was it? – in Wolseley Road, Coldean. My younger sister and I spent four months there while our mother was in hospital for an extended period when I was thirteen, which would have been during the summer of 1962 – the number one record was Mike Sarne’s ‘Come Outside’. The Home was administered by the County Borough of Brighton Children’s Department and was run at the time by a Mr and Mrs Granger, who had two children of their own, two boys, John and Paul.
Like a real family home
There were, if I remember rightly, three other children there, all under twelve, and they were Maurice Storr and Steven and Anita Brigden, all there long-term rather than on short-stay like us. The Grangers were quite strait-laced but very compassionate, and made a considerable effort to run the Home as a real family home. For the most part our stay there was very happy and positively luxurious compared to conditions at home. We all did daily chores, washing-up, fetching the coal for the boiler and polishing our own shoes, and received pocket money in return, which we’d spend on sweets at the shop in Hawkhurst Road.
A city kid’s delight in the country
I remember Mr Granger having a strange little three-wheeled grey Bond mini-car in which he went off to work each day. I recall the delight for a city-centre kid of having fields with cows in them directly opposite the house, and of the proximity of the Wild Park in which I spent a lot of my time rambling and black-berrying at weekends. I’d also go over to Stanmer Park which at the time was much larger than today, much of it later being given over to the University. There was a large and wonderful tree house in the woods there that I found once, and never managed to find again.
Travelling to school by bicycle
I also recall the large open space next to the Home that had at some earlier time been allotments; it was still possible to dig up potatoes there. Later this space was built on and no longer exists. I was at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar, and travelled there every day by bicycle, which was quite an adventure being some three miles in each direction, much further than my journey from my regular home.
TV and fried egg sandwiches
Once a month the Grangers had a weekend off and were relieved by a Mr and Mrs Strange, who were rather collaboratorial, allowing us to stay up later than the 9pm norm watching television and consuming fried egg sandwiches the while. I believe the house is still there but I doubt it’s a Children’s Home any more. If any of the people I’ve mentioned are still with us and get to read this, I’d be delighted to hear their memories.